Courtesy of Pepsi
Carbon dioxide in beverages is, literally, a natural fit. When yeast ferments things like beer and wine, these microbes give off CO2 to make the drinks fizzy — a precursor to modern sodas with their forced carbonation. But that doesn't mean you can't add other gasses. Nitrogen is already a common — if not typical — gas added in drinks like beer and cold brew. And now, Pepsi is bringing nitrogen to mainstream soda.
In what the brand is billing as "the first-ever nitrogen-infused cola," Pepsi has announced the forthcoming nationwide launch of Nitro Pepsi — an innovative new soda that will arrive this March in two different canned varieties: Draft Cola and Vanilla Draft Cola.
Of course, for those new to nitro, the question is likely "Why the heck would I want to drink a cola with nitrogen?" And it's a good one. The technical answer is that carbon dioxide has larger bubbles and can impart a slightly acrid taste whereas nitrogen's smaller bubbles are less explosive on the palate.
Pepsi describes the results as "softer than a soft drink" (an admittedly well-conceived expression). "It's creamy, smooth and has a mesmerizing cascade of tiny bubbles topped off by a frothy foam head," the brand continues.
Interestingly, Pepsi has actually been working on its nitrogen soda since at least 2019, and Food & Wine got our own taste test of that nascent version of the drink, likening the prototype "to drinking a Pepsi float, but without any ice cream involved." Our analyst continued, "It's richer and fuller on the palate while still reminding me of its carbonated cousin."
Nitrogen also creates a different drinking experience. Guinness — which was an early adopter of canned nitrogen technology — became famous for their "widget", and Nitro Pepsi utilizes a similar "unique widget placed at the bottom of every can." The addition of this device means the soda should be consumed differently: Serving it cold but not on ice and then "hard pouring" the can into a glass to let the nitrogen cascade.
"While soda has been a beverage of choice for so many consumers over the past century, some people still cite heavy carbonation as a barrier to enjoying an ice-cold cola. With this in mind, we wanted to come up with a new way for people to enjoy delicious Pepsi cola, but with a new experience around the bubbles," Todd Kaplan, Pepsi's VP of marketing, said in a statement. "Much like how nitrogen has transformed the beer and coffee categories, we believe Nitro Pepsi is a huge leap forward for the cola category and will redefine cola for years to come."
Both varieties of Nitro Pepsi will be sold in single-serve cans and four-packs. The official release date is March 28 — or if you're desperate to say you ordered it first, it's available for preorder on Walmart.com right now.